There is an extremely disturbing story out of Iran this morning that seven lawyers in Tabriz and Mashhad have been killed. These brave attorneys were reportedly representing Iranian detainees in the post-presidential protests.
It is well known that the authorities have threatened and attempted to scare off lawyers from assisting these protesters. These lawyers represent the ideal of the bar and refused to be deterred in their mission.
Sources say that the bodies of the lawyers were returned to their families by the government. After the lawyers began representing the protesters, they were themselves accused of disrupting security and encouraging unethical actions against the regime. Five were sentenced to three years each in jail and three died for injuries suffered during their incarceration. Families said that they were beaten so badly that they could not be recognized.
Two of the lawyers were executed after being sentenced to death for drug possession — charges that the families insist were manufactured to secure their death sentences.
In a couple weeks, I will be addressing the incoming class of students at George Washington, as I do each year. I often speak of the pressures of practice. I talk to the students about our heroes including such fictional characters like Atticus Finch. Of course, Finch never existed but these seven lawyers (and lawyers like them fighting in other countries like China) do exist and should be an inspiration for us all. They also show that, while there are lawyers like John Yoo and others who eager to assist in the curtailment of human rights, there are others who are willing to lay down their lives for the rule of law.
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6 thoughts on “Seven Lawyers Representing Detainees in Iran Reportedly Killed”
Got a better source than the ideologically driven and factually challenged jpost.com?
“I often speak of the pressures of practice. I talk to the students about our heroes including such fictional characters like Atticus Finch.”
As you say there, is no shortage of real life heroic attorneys. I would suggest two who come immediately to mind, Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkopf, who took on the Virginia legal establishment at great risk to their careers, to represent Mildred Loving. There are many more like them today working quietly representing unpopular clients to protect us all, but it seems heroes get less press these days unless they wield a more crude weapon.
Another issue that comes to mind is when you successfully beat the Federal Prosecutor time after time and refuse the generous offers of plea deal because you realize that the evidence is manufactured by the government, they they go after you personally!!!!!
Yeah been there, done that. Is it proper discovery to give you critical information in defense of your client buried within the reams of other paper the day of trial. Evidence which is exculpatory to your client?
The 6th Circuit says that it is harmless error? But after you have had your day in court and your client is found guilty because you cannot properly represent them with that new information.
What is really the difference between there and here?
Thurgood Marshall comes to mind …
We shouldn’t forget the lawyers who are and have represented detainees at Gitmo and other secret prison sites. The rule of law for the past 8+ years in the United States and around the world has suffered greatly. The judiciary is the final bastion of protection for individuals who are being set upon by their government or foreign governments. Without lawyers, the system will fail and in this case in Iran, that is why the lawyers were killed. The Iranian government did not want these attorneys to continue to challenge their power by their representation of these lawful protesters. A sad situation that is only going to get worse in Iran. Let’s hope that the rule of law isn’t trashed any further here in the States.
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